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Wat's Dyke, 420m long section, 190m west of the junction between Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road

A Scheduled Monument in Selattyn and Gobowen, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.9023 / 52°54'8"N

Longitude: -3.0349 / 3°2'5"W

OS Eastings: 330485.312561

OS Northings: 334376.431784

OS Grid: SJ304343

Mapcode National: GBR 74.P78T

Mapcode Global: WH89Q.C91V

Entry Name: Wat's Dyke, 420m long section, 190m west of the junction between Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1937

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020617

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33874

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Selattyn and Gobowen

Built-Up Area: Gobowen

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Gobowen All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of the
boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 420m from the point
where the remains first become visible 40m to the south of Preeshenlle, to
the north bank of the brook at Bryn y Castell. At the northern end of this
section the Dyke consists of a bank, up to 2m high, diminishing to 0.9m
high as it runs down to the roadway beside Pen y cae. In this stretch the
ditch is overlain by the road to Henlle Hall on the western side of the
bank. The ditch continues under the road to the western side of the garden
at Pen y cae, where the bank is only 0.4m high. For the 210m to the south
of this point the remains of the Dyke have been incorporated into the
gardens of a new housing project, and in four instances houses have been
partly built over the protected area. The bank and slight traces of the
ditch then continue southwards, taking advantage of a terrace in the
hillside, to the floor of the small valley to the north of Bryn y Castell,
where the bank is 0.6m high and the ditch a pronounced depression on its
western side. At a point 30m north of the bank of the brook, the remains
of the Dyke are interrupted by a tramway embankment which leads to a mine
shaft 80m to the west of the defences.

To the north and south of this section there are further sections of Wat's
Dyke, which are the subject of separate scheduling.

All fence posts, telegraph poles, gate posts, a stile, the surface of the
road and those parts of the houses which lie over the remains of the Dyke
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wat's Dyke is a linear earthwork boundary marker and defensive rampart. It
runs for about 60km from Basingwerk, on the Dee estuary, southwards to
Maesbury, near Oswestry. It consists of a large ditch, 5m wide and 2m
deep, with a bank on the eastern side. The bank is 10m wide at the base,
on average, and its original height was about 2.5m. Wat's Dyke runs
roughly parallel to Offa's Dyke which lies to the west, sometimes only
500m away. Both dykes run along the borders between England and Wales, and
it is clear that both were constructed to defend land on the eastern side
from incursions coming from the west.

The earthwork bank and ditch ran without interruption except where the
course of a stream or river cut through it. The date of construction has
not been accurately determined, but it is considered that it was built at
an earlier date than the parallel late 8th century Offa's Dyke, although
it fulfilled the same purpose. The Dyke forms a boundary between lands
firmly in control of the Anglo-Saxon overlords and lands more recently
taken from the native Britains by the English. Subsequently land to the
west of the Dyke became part of what is now Wales. The line of the Dyke
has been shown to mark a division between hidated (land assessed for
taxation on the basis of the Anglo-Saxon units known as `hides') and
unhidated lands (land under a different system of government) at the time
of the Domesday records. This suggests that the Dyke was constructed
before the `hide' system was put into practice during the reign of King
Offa of Mercia. The Dyke was probably built during the period of expansion
of the kingdom of Mercia before the accession of Offa, possibly during the
reign of Aethelbald (AD 716-757).

All known lengths of Wat's Dyke where significant archaeological deposits
are known to survive are considered nationally important.

This 420m long section of Wat's Dyke, 190m west of the junction between
Preeshenlle Lane and St Martin's Road, survives well as an upstanding bank
and buried ditch despite having been partly built over by the road in the
northern part and houses in the southern section. Since it has a high
public profile both from the roadway and the footpaths which provide
access from the north and the south, it will provide a source for
recreational enjoyment and educational value for the community. Soils in
the base of the bank and in the bottom of the buried ditch will have
evidence for the construction of the Dyke and the management of the land
at the time it was built.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Worthington, M, Wat's Dyke, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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